Asset Funders Network Newsletter
In This Issue
AFN Announcements
Asset Building News and Information
Webinar Recap
Upcoming Events: Open to All
Upcoming Events: Funders Only
Quick Links
AFN Steering Committee

nda Feinstein

Walter and Elise Haas Fund

Annika Little

Bank of America

Steering Committee

Dana Pancrazi

F.B. Heron Foundation

Kilolo Kijakazi

Ford Foundation

Merle Lawrence

Levi Strauss Foundation  

Benita Melton

Charles Stewart Mott Foundation

Laura Sparks 

Citi Foundation 

K. Sujata

  Chicago Foundation for Women 

Beadsie Woo

 Annie E. Casey Foundation

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AFN Announces Merger with Microenterprise Funders Group 


October 2011 


The Asset Funders Network (AFN) is pleased to announce that, effective October 1, 2011, the Microenterprise Funders Group (MFG) has become a part of AFN. This merger acknowledges the important connection between investments in microenterprise development and AFN's focus on asset accumulation, retention, and preservation for low-income individuals and communities.


Like AFN, the Microenterprise Funders Group was formed in 2005 by a group of foundations seeking a forum to explore their mutual interest in microenterprise development in the United States. As both organizations looked to increase their ability to serve as a catalyst for change it became clear that we could leverage the talents, expertise, and resources of both funder groups to build a sustainable organization capable of having a real impact on the overall asset-building field.


As AFN welcomes the former members of the Microenterprise Funders Group into the Asset Funders Network, the merger will offer several critical advantages:

  • Access to an expanded network of funders dedicated to asset development
  • Opportunity to participate in a broader roster of learning events connected to the full asset building continuum
  • Ability to combine forces for advocacy and policy relevant to low-wealth individuals and communities, and
  • Greater opportunity to explore the increasing connections between microenterprise and microfinance practice, credit building, savings and other forms of asset development.

Elaine Edgcomb and Joyce Klein of the FIELD program at the Aspen Institute, who currently manage the Microenterprise Funders Group, will continue to provide their leadership and expertise in leading the microenterprise programing of the Asset Funders Network. We are thrilled that they will be joining us and looking forward to having them on the team.


For more information, please contact Rick Williams at

AFN Welcomes Amaad Rivera as Project Coordinator


October 2011 


AFN is pleased to announce Amaad Rivera as our new Project Coordinator. We are excited to bring his talents and expertise to AFN. Welcome, Amaad! Please take a moment to read Amaad's biography below.


Amaad Rivera has committed in life's work to addressing inequality and economic disparities. He currently serves as a City Councilor in Springfield, Massachusetts where he wrote and passed the strongest anti-foreclosure ordinance in the country.  


Previously, he was the Director of the Racial Wealth Divide Initiative for United for a Fair Economy and lead author of "State of the Dream 2009: The Silent Depression" and "State of the Dream 2008: Foreclosed". His articles and publications have been featured in major media outlets such as the Washington Post, Black Agenda Report, Huffington Post, National Public Radio, Democracy Now, Too Much,, numerous local radio stations, CSPAN and Boston Neighborhood Network News. In the past, Amaad served as AmeriCorps Program Officer for the Massachusetts Service Alliance, co-managing a portfolio of organizations dedicated to addressing issues of poverty, health care disparities, environmental disasters, education inequity, civic engagement, volunteerism and youth development.  He was recently named Advocate's magazine 40 under 40.


He is attended Bentley University where he received a Bachelors in Marketing and the University of Massachusetts Amherst where he received a Master's degree in Education.

Asset Building News and Information
Creating Pathways to Opportunity
White House Report
October 14th, 2011
President Obama has called for our Nation to "out innovate, out educate, and out build the rest of the world." To answer this call, we must ensure that all Americans have the foundation and opportunities they need to build a strong economic life.


This report describes the many ways the Administration has fought to make sure that all Americans have the tools to weather these difficult economic times and clear a pathway to achieve economic stability and security. Central to this commitment going forward is the American Jobs Act, a key part of President Obama's plan to spur economic growth and put Americans back to work.
Stanford University Wins National Poverty Research Center Grant
Press Release
October 6th, 2011

A new web portal will make it possible for anyone - scholars, the general public and journalists - to track trends in hundreds of key measures of poverty and inequality and to gain access to the most important research on those trends


The Center for the Study of Poverty and Inequality at Stanford University has won a $4 million National Poverty Research Center grant from the Office of the Assistant Secretary for Planning and Evaluation of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.


The national center will be focused on monitoring trends in poverty and inequality, explaining what's driving those trends and developing science-based policies on poverty and inequality.

"This is a critical moment in U.S. history in which poverty is growing, long-term unemployment is increasing and income inequality is reaching an all-time high. The new center will be dedicated not just to monitoring these trends, not just to uncovering what drives them, but also to understanding how national economic policies affect them," said David Grusky, professor of sociology at Stanford University and director of the new center.


Read full press release. 


Learn more about The Stanford Center for the Study of Poverty and Inequality. 

Consumer Protection and Middle Class Wealth Building in an Age of Growing Household Debt


US Senate Committee on Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs/ Financial Institutions and Consumer Protection Subcommittee Hearing


October 4th, 2011 


The witnesses on Panel I will be: Mr. Atif Mian, Associate Professor of Economics and Finance, Haas School of Business and Department of Economics, University of California, Berkeley; Ms. Katherine Porter, Professor of Law, University of California-Irvine School of Law; Mr. Robert Lawless, Professor of Law, University of Illinois College of Law; Mr. Ray Boshara, Senior Advisor, Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis; and Mr. Douglas Fecher, President and CEO, Wright-Patterson Federal Credit Union, Fairborn, Ohio. The witnesses on Panel II will be: Ms. Ida Rademacher, Vice President for Policy and Research, Corporation for Enterprise Development; and Ms. Susan Weinstock, Project Director, Safe Checking in the Electronic Age, The Pew Charitable Trusts. Additional witnesses may be announced at a later date. 



Learn more about the United States Senate Committee on Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs.


Slipping Behind: Low-Income Los Angeles Households Drift Further from the Financial Mainstream


Pew Health Group Report
October 2011

Seventeen million Americans live without a bank account, exposing themselves to risks of monetary loss, fraud, and high costs associated with less regulated financial services markets. In this two-phase longitudinal survey of 2,000 low-income Los Angeles households, the Pew Health Group's Safe Banking Opportunities Project aims to further 

local, state and national understanding of the financial needs of underserved populations in our urban centers and the opportunity for banks to capture this market. The study explores the connections between financial services, the populations they serve or are 

failing to serve and the financial stability of those populations. 

Learn more about the Pew Health Group.
New 2011 Assets & Opportunity Scorecard Policy Data Release and Webinar
October 2011 
The Assets & Opportunity Scorecard is a comprehensive look at wealth, poverty and the financial security of families in the United States. It assesses the 50 states and the District of Columbia on how well residents are faring and what states can do to help residents build and protect assets. The Scorecard provides state-by-state performance and policy measures across five Issue Areas: Financial Assets & Income, Businesses & Jobs, Housing & Homeownership, Health Care and Education. 


The 12 Policy Priority pages include detailed assessments of the strength of each state's policies, recommendations for steps states can take to strengthen their policies, and links to Resource Guides that equip advocates with information on why the policy matters, what states can do to improve the policy, elements of a strong policy, impact and results of policy change to date, examples of successful policy change strategies, state precedents, advice on policy campaigns, as well as where to find additional resources.


CFED will hold a webinar that presents this new Scorecard policy data on November 17th at 2:00 p.m. EST. The webinar will also highlight trends in legislative changes in 2011 and introduce a number of "stroke-of-a-pen" policy options that states can pursue during tough budget times. To register, click here.  

Learn more about CFED.

Poverty Rate Soars to Record High in 2010


The Shiver Brief
September 14th, 2011


Karen K. Harris


According to the annual poverty data released by the Census Bureau yesterday, there were 46.2 million Americans living in poverty in 2010, up from 43.6 million in 2009 (an increase of 2.6 million). In other words, more than 1 in 6 Americans were poor in 2010. This is the highest number since the Census Bureau began gathering data 52 years ago, superseding last year's all-time high


The national poverty rate climbed to 15.1 percent in 2010, an increase over 2009's rate of 14.3 percent. This is the fourth yearly increase. The South was hit hardest, as its poverty rate climbed by 1.2 percent-twice the rate of any other region in the country. 


Experts believe that these figures understate the real level of poverty in the U.S. For example, many more young adults are staying or moving back home because they can't find jobs, and others have doubled up with friends and relatives. If only their incomes, as opposed to the entire household's, are counted, then instead of the official poverty rate of 8.4 percent, 45.3 percent would be in poverty.

Find out more about the Shiver Center.
Allocation Of The Tax Refund: How To Encourage Savings At Tax Time
Refund to Savings Research Brief 
August 2011
Assets Building Group at North Carolina University and the Center for Behavioral Science at Duke University with Intuit Inc.


The R2S Initiative pairs researchers from the Assets Research Group at the University of North Carolina and the Center for Behavioral Science at Duke University with Intuit Inc. The Initiative seeks to leverage Intuit's TurboTax software platform to expand financial security and opportunity.  


For many households, the tax refund is the largest inflow of 

money they receive in a given year. R2S applies the insights of 

behavioral economics to encourage increased savings and debt clearing using the tax windfall. In doing so, we not only want to generate new savings and promote financial well- being but also to better understand savings decisions, motivations, and 


Webinar Recap

Is the Price Right? Exploring the Role of Pricing in Microfinance


AFN Webinar

October 13th, 2011 


Over the last few years, the interest rate issue in microfinance has been a hot topic among those engaged in international programs. Concerns about over-indebtedness, coupled with questions about the pressures some microlenders have placed on borrowers, have fueled debate and a movement for greater transparency in pricing. 


Now these issues seem to be emerging in the US market as some for-profit lenders offer consumer and business loans at what appear to be considerably higher rates. What's right? What's fair? Where's the US nonprofit field in this, and what are the implications for funders? 


This webinar explored these questions drawing on an analysis summarized in FIELD's Funder Guide 17, with commentary by Brett Simmons of microlender ACCION Chicago and Paul Leonard of the Center for Responsible Lending 


Download webinar podcast, view webinar, or power point slides and FIELD Funder Guide #17. 


Measuring Mission with Metrics


The Financial Clinic Webinar

September 28th, 2011


The financial development field is not only striving to define its outcomes and impact, but is also exploring how it quantifies its work.  Several colleagues focused on financial security have sought to measure their mission with metrics:  How does one quantify the value of providing free taxes so that customers could claim the EITC?  How should philanthropists assess the value and time reflected by their investments?  Can some of these formulas be adopted across service providers in a given field?  The Financial Clinic sought to answer some of these questions for itself in its report "Cash Value: How the Financial Clinic Puts Money Into the Pockets of Working Poor Families." While "cash value" is not a Clinic outcome per se, how does it help us understand how we accomplish our mission?  How can it contribute to how the financial development field is measuring its impact? 


The Financial Clinic hosted a virtual presentation to explore these questions and themes, titled Measuring Mission with Metrics.

Mae Watson Grote, Executive Director of The Clinic was joined by leaders of the field-Steve Lee, Managing Director, Income Security, Robin Hood Foundation and Jackie Lynn Coleman, Vice President, National Programs, Center for Economic Progress; Senior Director, National Community Tax Coalition-who have wrestled with these questions and will share with us their lessons learned.  


Download power point presentation slides.


Find out more about The Financial Clinic.


Saving Homes, Building Better Futures in Communities of Color: A Strategic Conversation for Philanthropy


Alliance for Stabilizing Our Communities and Open Society Foundations Webinar


September 22nd, 2011


"Saving Homes, Building Better Futures in Communities of Color," webinar explored the impact of recent cuts in housing counseling funding on communities of color and emerging strategies to ensure that these cuts do not widen the country's growing racial wealth gap. 


This event was intended for a funder audience; presentation slides have been made available to everyone interested in learning more about this topic.


Download webinar presentation slides.

Learn more about Alliance for Stabilizing Our Communities and Open Society Foundations. 

Upcoming Events - Open to All 


PolicyLink Equity Summit


Healthy Communities, Strong Regions, A Prosperous America 


November 8-11th, 2011
Detroit, Michigan

Equity Summit 2011 is the fourth national PolicyLink Summit, bringing together the nation's equity movement-your fellow advocates, activists, policymakers, foundation officials, and equity leaders-to advance a truly inclusive policy agenda.  Join us in Detroit to share in a vision for more sustainable and equitable development with access to jobs, transportation, education, health, and housing for all.


Learn more about PolicyLink. 


CFED Webinar


Assets and Opportunity Scorecard: New Data on Strength of State Polices; Ideas for a 2012 Agenda


November 17th, 2011

2:00-3:00 PM EST


CFED will hold a webinar that presents new Scorecard policy data on November 17th at 2:00 p.m. EST. The webinar will also highlight trends in legislative changes in 2011 and introduce a number of "stroke-of-a-pen" policy options that states can pursue during tough budget times. 


Register here.

Read the updated Assets and Opportunity Scorecard.


 Find out more about CFED. 


Doorways 2 Dreams (D2D) Conference


More than Just Fun & Games: 2011 Prized Linked Savings Conference


November 18th, 2011

8:00 AM-5:00 PM

Goodwin Procter LLP

Boston, MA


Saving is a growth opportunity, for American families, for financial service providers and for policymakers. The Great Recession has taught us all that increased financial security is essential. Yet too often saving products and policies are dull. International and recent US initiatives have demonstrated that winning will motivate people to save. Prize-linked savings products, product features and public policies are bringing fun, excitement and interest back to saving. A wide range of stakeholders are arriving at the same conclusion, that prize-linked savings is a powerful idea.


As more and more thinkers and doers pay attention to prize-linked savings, one thing is clear: one-model does not fit all. The 2011 Prize-linked Savings Summit will report on tested, successful products, explore cutting edge models and deliver insights on PLS innovations. 


Come join leading financial service executives and entrepreneurs, world class academics, ahead of the curve policy makers and renowned legal minds to learn and be a part of the movement to innovate in and scale prize-linked savings.


Find out more about D2D, the conference and register. 


National Academy of Social Insurance's 24th Annual Policy Research Conference 


Social Insurance in a Market Economy: Obstacles and Opportunities

January 26th-27th, 2012

Washington, DC


Social Insurance in a Market Economy: Obstacles and Opportunities 

conference will be an interdisciplinary gathering of several hundred policy analysts and researchers, congressional staff, labor union representatives, advocates, industry leaders, federal employees and other individuals working in the field of social insurance. You will hear the latest developments in the social insurance field from a range of policy, research, advocacy, and business leaders.


Find out more and register. 


Scholarships Available to Young Professionals

NASI is pleased to offer the opportunity for students and young professionals to attend Social Insurance in a Market Economy: Obstacles and OpportunitiesNASI will award up to 6 scholarships to cover registration fees, roundtrip transportation to Washington, DC, and lodging for up to two evenings.


Visit the conference scholarship page on NASI's website for more information and an application form. Applications are due on Dec. 1st, 2011.


Learn more about NASI.

Upcoming Events - Funders Only

Bay Area Asset Funders Network Member Meeting 


Applying Behavioral Economics to Asset Building: Lessons from the Bay Area 


Wed, November 30th, 2011 

Networking Lunch (optional):11:30 am - 12:00 pm PST

Meeting: 12:00 -2:00 pm PST  



Oakland, CA 


Why do consumers make the financial choices they make? How can choices be influenced to engender positive outcomes? These are some of the questions asset-building practitioners have been asking themselves and, in recent years, many have turned to the field of behavioral economics for answers. Behavioral economics is the study of the emotional, social and cognitive factors that influence how people make economic decisions.

Join us for the next Bay Area Asset Funders Network meeting to learn about how Bay Area leaders are applying behavioral economics theory to improve asset-building program outcomes, particularly in the areas of financial education/coaching and financial products.  


The meeting will include an in-depth discussion of the steering committee recommendations emerging from the recent Bay Area AFN survey findings. Please join us for this important meeting!


Register for Bay Area AFN Member Meeting. 

This meeting is for funders only- thank you.   
EITC Funders Network Webinar

Links Between EITC and Savings
Thurs, December 1st, 2011
12:30-2:00 PM EST
For decades, savings have been a way to guard against economic instability and crises and transfer wealth to future generations. However, historically, not only was it believed that low-income Americans couldn't save but there were few policies or programs to help them save.
Recent work in the field sheds light on the ways EITC and free tax preparation movement are helping working poor families save.
Please join the EITC Funders Network and national and local program leaders in a webinar to explore connections between EITC and savings.
This webinar is for funders only (funders may invite their grantees to join as well) - thank you.
Find out more about EITC Funders Network
Rick Williams
Asset Funders Network Director